I'll never forget the silence.
It was my third sonogram. Austin and I had prayed for a baby for a long time, and after a season of waiting and what seemed like perpetual disappointment, it was finally happening! Our "little peep" was coming in October, and we were eagerly waiting for Easter weekend to make the big announcement. We checked my pregnancy app every day to learn how big our little one had grown, discussed a few names we might like, and dreamed about the color of her hair or the shape of his nose.
But all of that changed when all we could hear was silence, deafening silence as the ultrasound technician searched for the heartbeat that was there just two weeks prior. She gently, awkwardly apologized to us and I knew she'd done this dozens of times before. She'd seen this dejected, empty look on plenty of other women - I just never thought I'd be one of them. I nodded, jaw trembling, waiting for her to leave the room before I melted to tears in my husband's arms.
She'd seen this dejected, empty look on plenty of other women - I just never thought I'd be one of them.
I'd heard the "1 in 4" statistic before. And in the case of this pregnancy, our doctor was cautious from the beginning about our baby's slow development and low fetal heart rate. I had seen this happen to so many women in my circle, yet nothing could prepare us for the gut-punch we received that day. We wanted to believe that we were the exception, and that everything would be fine. But it wasn't - and neither were we.
A Season of Darkness
The next days and weeks were a blur of tears, exhaustion, and darkness. Because this was a missed miscarriage, I was given a medication to "expel the tissue." I now had to think of my baby, the one I had already loved beyond measure, as lifeless tissue that my body had to pass. I spent the weekend in agony as the physical pain coupled with the emotional toll of losing our first and only child. My body had already changed and adapted so much to pregnancy, just to have it ripped away. It felt foreign, harsh and cruel as it slowly adjusted to no longer carrying a baby.
Each day I went through the motions of getting up, getting ready for work, and crying in the car where no one could see me. I'd show up to school with an empty, broken heart and somehow managed to teach, even though I felt like I had nothing to give. Kids made comments about my appearance; coworkers asked me if I was okay, to which I always replied "Fine, you?" to quickly shift the attention off of me. I desperately needed the time and space to grieve our lost child, a loss that happened so intimately inside of my body, but life kept pushing me forward. I wished that I could explain why I was suddenly so upset, tired, and not-the-same as I was before, but I self-consciously kept it all hidden.
This is the kind of grief that can never truly be understood until you're living in it. The darkness you didn't know your heart was capable of experiencing. The tragic loss that seems incomprehensible.
I was not overcome by the darkness I felt. Though my mind, body, and soul are weak and prone to wander, my God is stronger than the darkness that threatened to overwhelm me. His goodness enclosed me, even when I didn't feel that what He was doing was for my good. His wisdom comforted my doubting heart, His strength sustained me when I didn't think I could keep going, and His love changed my bitterness, emptiness and brokenness to an unshakable hope. And I can not keep silent about the greatness of my God who saved me from the darkness.
My miscarriage brought me deeper into the Word than I had been in a long time and caused me to pray more regularly, earnestly and honestly. I felt a renewed hunger for the hope and encouragement that I couldn't find in any other source. Out of the darkness that I was experiencing, God answered me and gave me the hope my heart desperately needed. He tells us throughout Scripture that this world is dark and that we will experience that darkness in painful ways, yet His power to overcome our trouble is sure.
A Deliverer in Times of Trouble
But now, this is what the LORD says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: 'Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.'" Isaiah 43:1-2
"In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33b
"The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. The righteous person may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all." Psalm 34:17-19
A Source of Light in the Darkness
Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble; He saved them out of their distresses. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death and broke their bands apart." Psalm 107:13-14
"The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them." Isaiah 9:2
"But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation; My God will hear me. Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy. Though I fall I will rise; Though I dwell in darkness, the LORD is a light for me." Micah 7:7-8
"I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness." John 12:46
Though I am still coping with my miscarriage and allowing my body and heart to heal, God's grace has carried me this far and will be sufficient as my husband and I enter another season of waiting. We will continue to pray again for a healthy pregnancy, and we look forward in hope, knowing that even if God gives us another miscarriage, His goodness will conquer the darkness again.
To the miscarriage mamas reading this: I know the pain of empty arms and felt the same bitterness you feel as you watch other families grow. Every day I think about my angel baby without a name. I've walked the same difficult path you're treading, and if you ever need to vent, please reach out so we can cry together. To all mothers who never got to meet their beloved babies: I am so sorry. It is appropriate to grieve, and I pray that you have the space to do so.
But above all, I pray that God will strengthen and mend you in ways that exceed your greatest expectations. He sees and feels your broken heart. Dear mother, you are known, loved and held by a good Father.